To plan or not to plan, that is the question.
In recent weeks I’ve been travelling through some of the driest regions of New South Wales and Queensland speaking to farmers about the various ways they’re coping with this terrible drought.
These forums have included presentations from different people offering sound information and valuable, practical advice in key services such as farm agronomy, business and financial planning and debt management.
First and foremost, there’s been great value in bringing together members of these different agricultural communities in the one place, to share common ideas and solutions.
As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved and most of the best work and pragmatic thinking is always done during conversations held over a cup of tea or coffee, during the breaks.
A repeated point stressed at these events was the need for sound business planning; not only to overcome the current drought, but to also position the farm to take maximum advantage of profitability opportunities when the rains do come again – and they will.
Another important theme was the need to take a decent break such as a holiday with family and friends, to help clear the head and get into a new space where fresh thinking is possible.
Changing your immediate surroundings and stepping away from the drought helps to create a ‘helicopter view’ of the business, which stimulate objective decision-making and good quality planning.
Some people will always say ‘I don’t have any spare time right now to take a break from work’ or that they ‘can’t afford it’.
But the real question is, can you afford not to invest in yourself to be proactive and plan for successful outcomes?
The severity of the drought may be unprecedented in many areas, however that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily in unchartered waters because the basic principles of farming success still apply.
Farming is always a matter of risk versus reward with this truth was repeatedly demonstrated during presentations at these recent forums – whether it’s running livestock or producing crops.
Don’t hope for rain – plan for rain.
Good quality planning can never be underestimated to keep business operating costs down during tough times such as droughts, while ensuring the business is constantly positioning, adjusting and assessing possibilities, to maximise future profits.
Gathering a good team around you will also help with getting the right advice to create the best planning and deal with some of the inevitable and challenging issues, raised by drought.
Another area of sound advice raised at these forums was the need to maintain updated budgets and financial plans to communicate openly and more regularly with the banks so they can understand where your business is at, to assess how exactly they can help.
By Robbie Sefton
Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer, producing wool, meat and grains, and as managing director of national marketing communications company Seftons.
This article was published in The Land newspaper on 21 November 2019. Link to the article can be found here – https://www.theland.com.au/story/6505183/fix-the-roof-when-the-sun-is-shining/?cs=4941